Red Rock West

1993 Nicolas Cage movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Mike's down on his luck, a guy who can't get a drilling job because of a bad leg or afford to gas up his car. With five bucks left in his tattered wallet, he sputters into Red Rock, a town of 1,522 people. At the local watering hole, the proprietor (Wayne) mistakes him for a guy named Lyle and hints that there's a job for him. Mike, as desperate as they come, goes along with it and discovers that the job involves making the population of Red Rock 1,521 people by killing Wayne's whore of a wife. Being an honest guy, Mike tries to do nearly the right thing, but he finds himself in a pretty big mess anyway.

You're guaranteed to get at least one Nicolas Cage Moment in every Nicolas Cage movie. A Nicolas Cage Moment, in case you don't know, is when the character he happens to be playing starts acting like Nicolas Cage, doing things that only Nicolas Cage could or would do. Some movies (The Wicker Man, Bad Lieutenant) have multiple Nicolas Cage Moments. In Red Rock West, you get the Nicolas Cage Moment early on during a scene where he overreacts because he's low on gas. He punches the ceiling, like only Nicolas Cage would, and does this head-roll-while-moaning thing to show his frustration. Earlier in the movie, you get to see him do a one-armed push-up, and, for anybody who hasn't already realized it, he demonstrates what a sexual monster he is in the simple act of pumping gas, a simple act that Nicolas Cage Nicolas Cages like only Nicolas Cage can Nicolas Cage. He's pretty good in this, and it's entertaining watching his character, a genuinely good guy as proven in earlier scenes where he's honest about an injured leg and passes up the opportunity to grab a handful of cash and run, slip and slide into this hopeless situation. The more he tries to do right, the more he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He almost gets out a few times, but you just know there's going to be yet another shot of that "Red Rock population 1,522" sign. The second half of the movie is dominated by the actual Lyle played by an unhinged Dennis Hopper. It would have been fun to see Dennis Hopper at his wackiest in the same movie with Nicolas Cage at his most Nicolas Cage. Not sure about Lara Flynn Boyle as the femme fatale, but she is a cutie. The story threatens to spiral out of control, straddling that line between completely ludicrous and whatever is on the other side of completely ludicrous, but it's a well paced and consistently entertaining example of modern noir. The ending caught me off guard.

Nicolas Cage synchronicity: As I finished typing this, a Drive Angry commercial came on.


cory said...

I really like the dry humor in this. It was a must recommendation for anyone who has a love/hate relationship with Mr. Cage. A 17, for me. I wasn't sure about this one for you, and I am really unsure about it's replacement, "Hard Candy". I am slapping a big 'ol **subjective warning** on that one.

Shane said...

I rewatched '...And God Spoke (the making of)' last night and dug it. Maltin called the mockumentary a "sleeper" although it has a low imdb rating. Check it!

I have 'Hard Candy' taped, so I can watch it soon.

cory said...

The nice thing is that I can stream it off Netflix. I should be able to watch it soon.